Pumped for Murder by Elaine Viets: Book Review

Sep 17, 2011 | 2011 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Terell Byrd

I asked for this book to review. Well, all right, there was some begging and whining involved. I really wanted to read this novel – I spent more than my share of time in dead-end jobs in my college days and I was fascinated by the concept of a private investigator who takes dead-end jobs to gather information. People in the bottom jobs often know a great deal about what is going on. Agatha Christie used the principle, on more than one occasion that servants, waiters, cleaners and other people who provide small services can get away with murder because no one notices them.

At the beginning of this volume, Helen Hawthorne and her new husband Phil are just back from their honeymoon. They have decided to start Coronado Investigations (Phil is a former cop) and need to start collecting retainers as soon as possible. Their landlady and a neighbor give them leads to two clients to get them started.

Phil concentrates on researching the case of the death of Mark Behr. Mark died at thirty under mysterious circumstances more than two decades ago. Gus Behr, the older brother of Mark, has never believed in the quick closure of the case with a ruling of suicide and asks Coronado Investigations to find the murderer.

Meanwhile, Helen gets a job as a receptionist at a gym to observe the behavior of a husband suspected of toning his muscles for a woman other than his wife. He will not use the gym at the same time as his wife and she suspects he is meeting someone there,

There are some surprising twists, especially the suspicious death of a young female body builder, right after she has loud violent fights with a number of people at the gym. Helen also has her own skeletons in the closet and they are rattling loudly. There are things she has not told Phil about her past and she fears losing the love of her life if she is exposed.

This is a well-crafted delightful book. I found that there are nine more in the series, but I had no problem with following the story (or the back story). There are lots of very funny scenes and a few very serious, scary ones. I particularly like the relationship between Phil and Helen. Since Elaine Viets recently celebrated her fortieth anniversary (hard to believe – she looks so young) she knows on a personal level about the dynamics of successfully matched spouses. I have to go now. I have nine more books to read before the next in the series (Final Sail) comes out next year!


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Mystery Conference in Sacramento, March 29-April 1, 2012.Registration through 12/31/2011 is only $210 (it goes up to $225 after that). Registration information can be found at the conventionwebsite, or by sending an email to rb@robinburcell.com or cindy@cindysamplebooks.com.

Terell Byrd is a native Fresnan, who was born, raised, & educated locally. She graduated from Fresno Pacific with a B.A. in Classical Studies & Psychology. In the course of a mad gypsy life, she has taken classes in Electrical Engineering, broken into bank vaults at night & worked as a Tax Examiner for the IRS. She now lives quietly, with more cats than she admits to, spending her free time doing accounting.

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